Comment on Guantánamo Transfer

July 19, 2021 8:30 am

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has transferred Abdul Latif Nasser, a Moroccan citizen, from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Morocco. Mr. Nasser was cleared for repatriation in July 2016 in a consensus decision by a Periodic Review Board process that President Obama established in 2011 and President Trump affirmed in 2018. The Board is composed of senior officials from agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Once the Board makes its determination, the Secretary of Defense makes the final decision to transfer a detainee, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, and in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence. In addition, 30 days before a transfer, the Secretary of Defense must provide Congress with a certification and explanation of any security measures, and explanation why the transfer is in U.S. national security interests.

The United States detained Mr. Nasser at Guantánamo since 2002; he is represented by Thomas Durkin of the Durkin & Roberts firm and the human rights organization, Reprieve. Mr. Nasser is one of 11 Guantánamo prisoners that the Board has cleared for transfer.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said:

“This is an encouraging development. It’s a travesty that Mr. Nasser continued to languish at Guantánamo after being cleared for transfer to Morocco five years ago. That travesty only compounded years of injustice because the fact is, the United States has detained Mr. Nasser at Guantánamo without charge or trial for 19 years. We’re glad that Mr. Nasser’s ordeal in a system the world recognizes as a symbol of American human rights abuses is ending, and hope he will have space to recover in peace.

“The Biden administration urgently needs to negotiate and implement similar decisions for other cleared prisoners. Bringing an end to two decades of unjust and abusive military detention of Muslim men at Guantánamo is a human rights obligation and a national security necessity.”

In February 2020, over 110 organizations, including the ACLU, wrote to President Biden urging him to close the Guantánamo prison and to end indefinite military detention without delay. The organizations include groups focused on immigrants’ rights, racial justice, and combatting anti-Muslim discrimination.

The groups’ letter stated:

“Guantánamo embodies the fact that, for nearly two decades following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States government has viewed communities of color – citizens and non-citizens alike – through a security threat lens, to devastating consequences. This is not a problem of the past. Guantánamo continues to cause escalating and profound damage to the men who still languish there, and the approach it exemplifies continues to fuel and justify bigotry, stereotyping, and stigma.”

A total of 779 men have been detained at Guantánamo since the United States opened the prison in 2002; 39 still remain there.

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